McCall 6501 Girls Dress A+E

Last but not least in the why-the-hell-am-I-Sewing for Kids Trilogy is the pile on the left.

The Pattern

My niece picked the black mesh fabric and had wanted a jacket out of it. But I was worried that a see-through jacket might be a bit too sexy / grown-up so I tried to J-Crewfy it. I thought the fabric would work well with a drapy design like this – the flounce especially. As added insurance against parental objection I also added the sleeves. The Franken-drawing looked alright to me. But of the 3 makes, I’m most meh about the result of this one…

Catalogue Shots


Is it just me or does this dress look dowdy? I’m wondering now if I shouldn’t have just made another gathered tier skirt with black lining.

Fabric & Notions Used

I was needlessly apprehensive about sewing the mesh knit and unduly confident about sewing the Lycra underlining. The mesh in fact sewed easily on the overlocker. The Lycra lettuced like crazy on both the overlocker (with differential feed turned right up) and sewing machine…until I spray starch the hell out of it. I even resorted to homemade starch when I ran out of the commercial one. Once it’s stiff like paper it behaved itself.

Size Used

Like with the Burda jacket I made a 12 – supposedly a size larger than my niece’s current measurements. But unlike the Burda jacket this one is L-A-R-G-E. Even I could fit into it. Not sure if it’s the typical over-generous ease problem that many have reported on the Big 4 patterns, or if the fault is with me for choosing stretchy fabrics.

I would have said “that’s OK as she can grow into it”. But of the 3 garments I think this is the most kiddy design. The other two could easily be teenage or even grown up fashion. This one looks too sickly sweet to be worn by anyone other than little girls & tweenies.

Changes Made

Frankenpatterned view A sleeves onto view E dress. And underlined the whole thing.

Verdict on the Instruction

I read the instruction but did my own thing because of the changes I made. Otherwise the instruction is pretty straight-forward (and easier to follow than Burda in my opinion).

Like with the cut-lace tier skirt, I treated the underlining as a separate layer for the main bodice. Only in the armscyes, sleeve hems, and back neck opening did I treat the layers as one.


As much as possible I kept the seams and hem stitching as light-weight as possible. So the mesh shell had narrow overlocked seam and roll hems – first time I did this and it came out without a hitch thanks to the easy-to-handle mesh fabric. The underlining had slightly wider seams with a machine-stitched single-fold narrow hem.


I was debating whether to finish the sleeve hems the same way, but decided to make it look more like the other upper edges – neck hem, back opening. This is to avoid distracting from the design line of the fluid flounce which flows into the fluid bottom hem. (There’s a bit of design thoughts going into this after all, even if the result isn’t quite as fashionable as I had hoped! }:-)

Would I sew it again / Would I recommend it to others

It is a sweet looking dress. And if you get the sizing right and picked the right fabric I think it would look good on young girls & younger Tweenies.

Somehow I don’t think I’ll be sewing this again though.  Unless this Tweeny Trilogy turn out to be unexpected mega-blockbusters I’m done sewing for kiddies. Back to regularly scheduled adult sewing next.

Me Made Holiday Report Card

In the suitcase…




  1. McCall 6078 Cowl Neck Sleeveless T-shirt
  2. Franken McCall 6078c Cowl Neck Leopard Print Sleeveless T-shirt
  3. Burda 2012-09-123 Painted (Byzantine) T-shirt



  1. Burdastyle 2012-05-113 Draped Leopard Print Skirt
  2. Refashioned RTW Leopard Print Skirt
  3. This is the only non-Me-Made item in my suitcase. Or is it? I did shorten then turn up the hem to wear it as a capri. So can I be cheeky and count this as Me-Made as well? 😉
  4. Refashioned RTW Heidi Skirt. Not blogged. But it’s pretty much the same make as my Improv Embroidered Taffeta Pleated Skirt



  1. OK, another borderline cased. RTW Victoria Secret Dress altered to fit me better. Does it still count?
  2. Improv Tent Dress. Not blogged yet. This has got to be the Happiest Oops & my favorite make. Ever. It has gone on almost every holiday with me since I made it – I think that was back in 2003.
  3. V1159 Donna Karan Twist Front Dress

Keeping Warm…


  1. Wrap Cardigan based on Burda 2011-06-139 Bluemarine Wrap Dress, planned a while back, but only finished during this trip. So not blogged yet. I was actually finishing the hemming just before checking my luggage in for the flight to Ohio! But boy was I glad I finished it. I wore it so many times during this trip.
  2. Franken Burda 013-02-121 Sweater
  3. Improv Faux Shearling Stole




Actually worn….

I got to hand it to you Me-Made-May girls. I don’t know how you manage a whopping 31 days. Even with just 14 days I couldn’t keep up with the photo-documentation.

No, worse, Mother Nature intervened (too hot AND too cold). So despite packing enough for 15 outfits ((3 tops x 4 bottoms) + 3 dresses) I keep sorting to the same few comfortable outfits. Here are the few photos I did manage to take…

What I’ve learnt…

I need to stop making tight fitting summer clothing! Skin. Wants. To. Breathe…And. Feel. The. Breeze.

And watch out for grainline, stretch, & gravity! The two sleeveless cowl neck tops were based on the same pattern. But the yellow one was cut on the crossgrain while the turquoise leopard one was cut on the regular lengthwise grain.  As stretch is greatest in the crossgrain on most knits, the yellow one’s armholes have obviously stretched thanks to gravity and feels comfortably loose. The turquoise one didn’t. So was a bit too binding for hot NY summers.

The Final Score

I think that will have to be a B at best.

I did force myself to wear everything at least once. But some days I just had to change midway through the day. There is only so much I’m willing to suffer for fashion!

Honey, really, I don’t have enough…

The Spring Coat(s) have fallen by the way side of course. My next project(s) of fantasy desire will be fashioned from this gorgeous turquoise leopard print jersey from B&J Fabrics. Drool.

turq leopard print jerseyturq leopard print jerseyturq leopard print jersey

My initial thoughts were a cowl neck top and a wrap dress.

Actually, this fabric looks a lot like the one Assorted Notions used for her Burda Blumarine wrap dress (Burdastyle Magazine 2011-06-139).


I don’t think it’s exactly the same, at least from what I can see of her close-ups. Mine has short strokes in the turquoise area presumably to simulate the furriness of leopard skin. Anyway, I love her wrap dress. But I’m not sure it would work so well on my rectangular figure – you need a bit of VaVaVroom to bring this preternatural creature to live. But at least it’s an option.

Then there’s Vogue 8379, a classic DvF style wrap dress that everyone seem to rave about.


Or the slightly straighter Vogue 8784, though that’s designed for woven rather than knit so might have too much ease.


And for the cowl neck, I think McCall 6078 view B can be pressed into service again, maybe with an extended collar to up the drape quotient.


Then I thought this cowl neck might be a good accent to build a wardrobe sewing plan around. Looking through my other swatches there are a few that would be a lovely combination with this. Hmmm…maybe I should make that wrap dress a separate 3/4 sleeve top and skirt to up the mix-and-match possibilities.

Maybe Vogue 8790 for the top and Burdastyle Magazine 2012-05-113 for the skirt. I’d probably line the skirt with a power mesh for a bit more heft – this knit is a bit on the thin side. And I’ll have to insert a zipper because the fabric doesn’t really have enough stretch.


I was getting quite giddy from the thoughts of all these possibilities. So imagine my dismay when I discovered that my 2-1/4 yards are not even enough for one of those wrap dresses.

With all my expensive fabric habit, I failed where it counts. Am so regretting not getting more. Now I can’t find anything as nice. 🙁

It’s always the case. I’d find some heavenly but expensive fabric. I’d think to myself if I only get a yard or two it’ll still be somewhat affordable. And then I’d find myself afraid to make anything because I have so little of it that I can’t decide what to make. Where as the uglier cheaper stuff I’d get yards and yards, but then not be inspired to make anything.

I’ll have to wait until my brother’s gone home to spread out the fabric and see what I can possibly squeeze out of it. Wish me luck on that!

But what do you think? If you have 2-1/4 yards of this fabric, what would you make? And if you find a gorgeous fabric what’s the minimum you’d usually buy?

Fortuny Delphos Wannabe Dress

Since there’ll be no sewing done this month, let’s play “Here’s one I made earlier.” First up, my Fortuny Delphos Wannabe Dress.

The Inspiration

Mario Fortuny is a Spanish artist from the turn of 20th century whose lighting designs, Grecian pleated dresses and Renaissance velvet robes I really, REALLY love. Actually, my Gigli Wannabe Coat can probably be traced back to his influence via Romeo Gigli, Paul Poiret, and Ballets Russes.

He developed a way of permanently micro pleating silk which to this day no one else has figured out how to do. The closest modern equivalent would be crystal pleats or mushroom pleats.

Supposedly 70s designer Mary McFadden revived the use of these type of pleated fabric, but in polyester because they couldn’t figure out how to permanently pleat silk. Threads Magazine have a couple of articles on how to work with these type of pleats (10-11/1990 and 6-7/1993 issues, available on Threads Magazine Archive DVD). Both showed designs more influenced by McFadden.

Not really my cup of tea. (70s and early 80s aren’t really my favorite decades fashion-wise.) I much prefer the romantic Grecian style of Fortuny. To me, it’s not a fashion garment: It’s a timeless classic. In fact, my favorite image of a Fortuny Delphos is this one of an obviously very old lady.

Doesn’t she look majestic! (Photos from Fortuny by Deschodi & Poli, and Fortuny: The Life & Work of Mariano Fortuny by Osma.)

I really wanted to make one just like Fortuny’s Delphos, with bateau neckline and all. But my fabric from the Cloth House on Berwick Street, London was a bit too stiff. I think it’s a rayon crystal pleat. It doesn’t burn like polyester, but it doesn’t have the sheen of silk either.

In the end, I found in my clippings this alternative inspiration:

I went for the one on the left, a simple sleeveless chemise dress with underbust and waist shaping. Slimming while still preserving the elegantly simple and classic spirit of a Fortuny Delphos.

The Making

The crystal pleat fabric was a bit difficult to work with. The micro pleats make the fabric spongy, stretchy, and unstable. But I couldn’t use fusible to stablize it since pressing would flatten the micro pleats. Plus fusible would make the fabric even stiffer. I wonder if a different base fabric might be more fluid. This one, though thin, was a bit like China Silk / Habotai – floaty rather than limp and drapy like Charmeuse, Georgette, or Chiffon.

I ended up draping and designing on Big Bertha, then hand-sewing the whole thing. Yes, hand-sewing . Actually I don’t mind hand-sewing . The part of sewing I hate the most is pressing. Hot and boring. Hand-sewing is actually kind of meditative. Not that I’d deliberately turn to hand-sewing like the couture-loving crowd – my hand stitches are a bit too crooked for me to love them. But compare to having to unpick machine stitching, I’d rather hand-sew for better control with fabrics like this. Besides, the micro pleats hide a multitude of sins! 🙂

The fabric is cut in half for the front and back, pinned at the sides and shoulder, put on Big Bertha. Then style tape is laid on top to determine the neckline, armholes, and underbust shaping. I basted the tape to the fabric while it was still on Big Bertha to temporarily preserve the shape, then hand back-stitched along the edge of the tapes before removing the tapes.

The neckline and armholes are cut to the stabilized edge with about 1/4” hem, then turned faced with bias tape made from off-cuts that were pressed flat. These edges were then overcast with decorative metallic knitting yarn for a more defined shape and rustic look like in the inspiration photo. The overcast along the front neck edge crisscross at CF and continue under the bust, then around the back. On the inside, the overcast couch the black elastic which I thought might help preserve a closer fitting shape while still provide enough stretch (like the pleated fabric) for comfortable breathing. But I’m not sure it works as intended. The shoulder and side seams are hand-sewn french seams, and the skirt hem hand-rolled lettuce hem.

While experimenting with the draping, I decided I quite like this open back look too. So for CB closure, instead of buttons on one side and loops on the other side of CB, I sewn buttons on both sides. Then I made separate double-loops to pull the two sides together for a more conservative look, or left the top double-loop off for a open back neckline.

Despite the hassle of hand-sewing the whole dress, I’m quite pleased with the dress. Especially when it packs like this…


Then unpack to this…

Style Shots & Mug Shots

Yeap, this dressed made it to Maldives too. It’s not the most practical dress – not what you’d call a wardrobe builder. And not particularly practical for chilly London. But feels just right in luxurious Maldives! I felt like one of those Grecian ladies from an Alma Tadema painting.  🙂

And for a slightly Medieval feel…with my beloved 1980s Comme des Garçons scarf – my first designer purchase back in High School and still in circulation decades later despite the moth holes. Plus the ceramic cross pendant my friend gave me – my Cow Bell I call it – dropped, broken, and glued back together again. I do get rather attached to some things. Not very Buddhist. Or with a slightly Indian flavor, worn as a skirt with another two old makes: a S/S 1989 Gigli inspired wrap top and a Indian choli (cropped fitted top).


V1159 Donna Karan twist front dress

This one was a tortoise. I made the first muslin like a year ago. Maldives was what it took to push through with a proper make. Or sort of proper. You see, part of the delay was due to my attempt to alter this no-alteration pattern. There was a fair bit of “I feel lucky” going on.

The Pattern

It’s a lovely feminine pattern. All of the makes on Pattern Review have been gorgeous, even if many complained about the low cut armhole and front gap-ahoy.

Style Shots & Mug Shots


Fabric & Notions Used

Size Used

My first muslin was a 10 based on high bust measurement. For this one I used am 8 with alterations.

First Muslin

For my first I followed the instruction closely. Or so I thought.

Like others, I noticed that front drape crisscrossed in the opposite direction to the pattern photo and tech drawing.

It wasn’t until I took apart the muslin and tried to trace my alteration guidelines that I noticed I didn’t pay enough attention to the cutting layout instruction: I had the wrong side facing up instead of the right side when I cut my fabric. It’s an easy mistake to make since most of the time you’re cutting folded fabric with wrong sides on the outside, facing up.

I thought it turned out alright though. The drape plus the stretchy fabric make it a rather forgiving pattern. It does have the minor flaws noted by others, though non-matching notches wasn’t a problem in size 10 and 8.

Heeding their warnings I had raised the armholes by about 1-1/2”, but they were still a bit low and gappy. The front was fine if I stand up straight, but immodest if I lean forward – like to get up from a chair. So I decided that I’d attempt alteration for my next make.

BTW, the profile looks horrible, especially the skirt, only because the fabric I chose wasn’t really appropriate. It felt more like sweatshirt material. So too stiff to drape gracefully. I learnt my lesson and chose a more drapy fabric for this make.

Changes Made


  • Narrowed lower back.
  • Sway-back adjustment.
  • Full-bust adjustment and pivoted FBA dart to shoulder pleats and waist / skirt drapes. Interestingly, I think this might have made the shoulder more like the slight cap sleeve in the pattern photo.
  • Shorten front fold to get rid of gaps.
  • Lower left shoulder adjustment.
  • Raised armhole. I think I might have overdone this a bit. Together with the FBA, the armhole has become a bit too small / binding. The Vilene Bias Tape I use to stabilize the armhole probably doesn’t help either. When I get home I might unpick this, get rid of the bias tape, re-stitch with stretch stitch, and pray that the natural give of the fabric will remedy the over-zealous armhole reduction!
  • Changed skirt seam to CB seam (to make it easier to diagnose skirt fitting problems).
  • Omit skirt lining. Extended bottom edge of the “Upper Back” pattern to meet at CF. Added interfaced facing to make this extension sturdy enough to support the weight of the front draped skirt.

Verdict on the Instruction

It is convoluted. This is one pattern where I had to follow the instruction faithfully. At least for the first muslin. The illustrations helped tremendously because the verbal instruction is a jumble due to the poor pattern area naming. How are you suppose to make sense of “shoulder pleats in FRONT AND BACK (1)”??? In fact, when I mapped it out, all pattern pieces cover the front and the back, just different parts of them. This is because they all warp around your body.

To help others who want to make this dress, here’s my rough mapping of pattern areas and numbered matching seams in a somewhat Burda style. Who knows, maybe some of you may also be brave enough to attempt alteration! 🙂

And here are some details of my muslin, especially the inside, to help you figure out what’s going on with the pattern areas.


For this make, I tried to stabilize edges that I thought might stretch out of shape:

  • Vilene Bias Tape on back neckline, armholes, and front drape crossing hems. I might omit it from the front armholes in future make or enlarge my altered armholes slightly.
  • Clear elastic on shoulder seams, waist seams, under-bust seams in the front.

v1159_2D_5I also tacked the folds of the top front drape in place. That’s the only way the folds will stay gracefully small and Grecian. Otherwise it’d morph into an unflatteringly wide Beauty Pageant Sash look.

Would I sew it again

Probably. Once I work out the kinks. I think it’s a wardrobe classic. I might even alter the armhole area to take sleeves. It’d be a lovely LBD with 3/4 sleeves!